5 Reasons Your Car is Having Foul Odor

5 Reasons Your Car is Having Foul Odor

The power of scent is profound. 

A fresh, pleasant smell can have numerous positive effects on our mood, 

While exposure to foul smells can irritate, cause distress & quickly put us in a bad mood.

Be it our home, office or any other place we frequent – everyone expects a clean environment filled with pleasant and welcoming smell. As smell plays a crucial role in shaping our mood in any setting.

Expectations are quite similar when it comes to cars.

Every car owner anticipates being greeted by a fresh, pleasant aroma the moment they step inside in the car. However, this isn’t always the case. If you keep your car unclean, then be prepared for a foul smelling car.

Many car owners are busy in keeping the exterior shining & attractive, often ignoring the interior maintenance. Thus, they pay a heavy price for not taking care of the interior. Your car stinks from inside and greets you with a foul odor the moment you step inside. The foul smelling car is suffocating, making you want to jump out of the car.  

Foul odor in your car is both uncomfortable & embarrassing. 

If you’ve noticed a foul odor in your car, it’s important to address it quickly. Here are five common reasons your car might be emitting a foul odor and how you can tackle each one.

Rotten Smell Due To Food and Drink Spills

Food and drink spills are common in cars since people often eat and drink on the go. 

Eating or drinking in a car isn’t a problem. 

The real problem is the leftovers or carry bags carrying the food. The leftover food may start stinking after a few hours. If ignored for a longer time or permanently left inside the car, it may get lodged in hard-to-reach areas, thus releasing rotten smell. Thus, a foul smelling car is yours. 

While the spills or liquids can seep into the upholstery and carpeting, resulting in a sour or rotting smell. Dairy products, in particular, create pungent odors the moment they get spoiled or stale.

Type of Odor

Spills & stale leftover food typically generate sour or rotting smell – depending on the type of food or drink.


  1. Thoroughly check the car’s interior 
  2. Check the seats
  3. Check the upholstery & fabric
  4. Check the carpeting
  5. Remove embedded food particles and spills. 
  6. Immediate Cleanup
  7. Deep Cleaning by a carpet cleaner or upholstery cleaner 
  8. Place Odor Neutralizers inside to neutralize the smell.
  9. For persistent smells, consider a professional detailing service.


A musty smell indicates the presence of mold or mildew. In areas with high humidity or when frequently driving through such areas, the damp conditions can quickly lead to mold or mildew growth. Excessive mold or mildew generates a musty smell that makes a foul smelling car.

Dubai’s climate is generally hot. It leaves no room for any dampness to develop. No dampness means no mold or mildew. Your car is safe from any kind of musty smell. However, when you drive in rain or your car has experienced water leaks, then leaky windows, sunroofs, or air conditioning systems can create the perfect environment for mold growth, leading to that unpleasant musty odor and thus you have a foul smelling car. 

Type of Odor

The musty odor is similar to the smell of wet clothes left in a closed space for too long.


  1. Carefully Inspect your car’s interior
  2. Check for water Leaks
  3. Check the seats
  4. Check the upholstery & fabric
  5. Spot mold or mildew if any
  6. Spot any water leaks around windows, sunroofs, and the air conditioning system. 
  7. Leave your car windows open to allow fresh air to circulate.
  8. Dry Out the Interior using a dehumidifier 
  9. Wipe with a cloth & use silica gel to absorb the moisture. 
  10. Clean the affected areas with a mixture of water & Vinegar 


A burnt smell in your car indicates a serious issue that requires your immediate attention. Carefully inspect your car’s mechanical systems to identify the source of the odor. Make sure this smell doesn’t make your car a foul smelling car. 

The burnt smell could originate from various parts, mainly from the electrical systems. 

Any mechanical part may be overheating – overheated AC, overheated brakes, a slipping clutch, electrical issues can produce burnt smell. 

One major cause of a burnt smell is high friction, which generates excessive heat & thus a foul smelling car. 

A burning smell from your car may be caused by any of the following:

  1. Burning rubber smells
  2. Loose, damaged, or worn out belts or hoses
  3. Plastic or other burning smell
  4. Worn out brake pads, 
  5. Burned out electrical fuse
  6. Overheating A/C compressor
  7. Overheating clutch
  8. Overheating brakes 
  9. Overheating engine 
  10. Oil leakage 
  11. Overloaded or failed battery 
  12. Leaking transmission fluid 
  13. Debris caught in the exhaust system 
  14. Electric wiring issues 
  15. Faulty alternator 

The Odor

A burnt smell can vary from a faint, smoky scent to a strong, acrid odor, similar to burning plastic or rubber.


  1. Inspect the Brakes
  2. Check brake pads or rotor
  3. Check the clutch when shifting gears, your clutch might be slipping.
  4. Check electrical components & wirings for signs of overheating 
  5. Check your air conditioning system 
  6. Inspect belts and hoses for wear and tear
  7. Ensure the engine cooling system is functioning properly
  8. Check for oil leaks and repair them
  9. Inspect the exhaust system for any debris or damage
  10. Verify that the transmission fluid is at the correct level and not leaking


Gas smells are directly related to fuel leaks. If you detect the odor of gasoline, it indicates that there may be a leak in the fuel tank, fuel lines, or injectors.

Time to thoroughly check your fuel systems and prevent your car from turning into a foul smelling car. 

When you stop by a gas station to refuel your tank, pay attention. You may notice gas smell immediately after refueling the tank. Gas smells while refueling are absolutely normal & for a short time. Check your gas cap & continue your journey. The temporary gas smell may dissipate in a few minutes. However, If the smell persists for a longer time, then you need to check your fuel systems or gas cap. Persistent gas smells can be unpleasant and dangerous and make your car a foul smelling car. 

Type of Odor

The smell of gasoline is sharp and unpleasant.


  1. Check for any Leaks
  2. Inspect the fuel tank, fuel lines, and injectors. 
  3. Tighten or replace the gas cap
  4. Clean the car’s ventilation system 
  5. Monitor fuel consumption
  6. Use a fuel leak detector 
  7. Seek professional help from a qualified mechanic


Sometimes the rubber hose or belt wear out or get loosened. These parts get dislocated or in some cases get stuck in the engine compartment. When they get dislocated, they freely move around and mix with hot engine parts—leading to friction that generates a rubbery odor. 

Loose belts and hoses get worse with time. So, the rubbery odor needs your immediate attention. 

Sometimes, a worn out drive belt may emit a rubber smell. Such smells turn your car into a foul smelling car. 

Type of Odor

Smells like burnt rubber or overheating tires.


  1. Inspect Belts and Hoses Regularly 
  2. Look for signs of wear and tear
  3. Look for cracks 
  4. Quickly replace damaged belts & hoses
  5. Clear debris or foreign objects caught in the engine compartment
  6. Remove objects causing friction
  7. Check the alignment of the hoses & belts and other components

Wrap Up - 8 Reasons Your Car is Having Foul Odor

In Dubai, keeping your car clean & well-maintained is critical. Make sure you maintain your car’s interior as well as exterior. And more importantly, fix any foul odors in your car quickly. Eliminating foul odors from your car is quick & easy. It just involves a combination of regular maintenance, prompt cleanup of spills, and periodic deep cleaning. A fresh-smelling interior ensures a pleasant driving experience. However, keep in mind these five types of unpleasant odors that may be present in your for various reasons- rotten smell due to food and drink spills, musty smell due to mold or mildew, burnt smell due to overheating or electrical issues, gas smells due to fuel leaks, rubber smell due to friction. Once you know the type of odor present in your car & after locating its source, you can start periodic deep cleaning sessions. Just clean the interior, upholstery, carpets, wipe down surfaces, and use fresheners or odor-neutralizing products to eliminate any lingering scents. A pleasant smelling car provides a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience in Dubai’s challenging climate.

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